Announcements

Attention one and all! There is a new application open for anyone interested in becoming a PA for History of Magic! You can read more about the opportunity here or in the Newsroom:

History of Magic: https://forms.gle/YRCpSUMcPzTGjD1d9
Must have completed Year One of History of Magic (i.e. submitted all assignments, including extra credit), ideally with a 90%. For questions, contact the Head Student for the course, Lurkelly Leikeze.

Lesson 1) The Great Clustering

Welcome back, Third Years! This year, we will be expanding our range from Great Britain to cover the history of magic in Europe. This provides an excellent mix of familiar topics (as the greater area of Europe does have many things in common historically with the United Kingdom), as well as new events and people we have not yet discussed before. While, as mentioned, many of these events still apply to us in the United Kingdom, the topics discussed will have had a large impact on the entire continent.

But enough explanations! Below is the overview of the syllabus for the year:

 

Week

Topic

1

The Great Clustering 

2

Ancient Europe

3

Education And Sports

4

Medical, Medicinal, and Health

5

Wizards and Creatures

6

Introduction to Goblin Politics

7

P-ISOS

8

Contemporary Europe

9

The European Timeline


You’ve come this far, so I have no doubt you are already clear about the ground rules, so I won’t be going through them in any further details this year. The expectations for behavior, rigor, and submissions remain the same, though as older students I do expect higher quality work. I am sure I will get nothing but the best from you all. Strive for excellence!


With administrative issues out of the way, let’s begin our first lesson of the year. 

As mentioned before, this year we are covering the history of magic in Europe. Compared to the previous year, we are going to zoom out and look further into many other parts of Europe. However, we are not going to focus on particular countries, but instead, will provide a general overview of  European magical history in different overarching areas such as education, politics, medicine, et cetera. Today, we are going to start off with “the Great Clustering.”

What do you think of when you hear that phrase? I’ll say it again, “the Great Clustering.

A gathering of people? Large groups clustering as one? If so, you’re almost right. Essentially, “The Great Clustering” covers the period of time during which wizards and witches started grouping themselves together (for various reasons). In your Second Year, you learned that in the centuries prior to the signing of the International Statute of Secrecy, witches and wizards began to band together to support each other, as the rest of the villages usually consisted of Muggles, at least partially. Do you remember the only fully magical wizarding village in Great Britain? Yes, very good! Hogsmeade.

If that is the case, then what are we learning about now? We are moving into the more in-depth understanding of why we gather together. Also, in this lesson, you’ll learn about other major wizarding villages in Europe that were not covered previously.

 The Great Clustering

Close your eyes and imagine this scene in your head. It is your second day of school at Hogwarts. You do not know much about the school or anyone in particular. You just got sorted into your respective houses yesterday. You walked into your very first class. There are just two seats left, both of which are next to people you do not know, but one of them is from your house. Do you choose the seat:

  1. Next to a person from your house?
  2. Next to a person from another house?

Most likely, though not true all the time, people choose option one. In fact, we face numerous small choices like this in a single day (and tend towards option one). Why do you think that is? 

This is because people tend to associate with people they feel they have something in common with. At a ball, females may choose to group themselves with other females as they feel more comfortable in their similarities and are assured they’ll have something to talk about with each other. First Years often stick to friends of their same house, at least in the beginning. It’s understandable to seek comfort in familiarity. But why not choose the other option, you might ask?

In the scenario above it was likely that you would choose option one because there is a greater chance for you to have something to talk about with this stranger. However, does that mean that there was simply nothing to discuss with someone from another house? Do you have nothing at all in common? Of course the answer to that question is no! By nature of being in the same class together, you are already quite similar. You are a witch or wizard (which is not an incredibly common thing) and, in this scenario, you are all First Years. Barring some extreme circumstances, we all get along well with, are friends with, and frequently talk with members of other houses. So the question remains, why are we less likely to pick option two?

At face value, Muggles and magical folk alike tend to avoid people we feel are different from us. This is especially true at points in our lives when things are unfamiliar, the future is uncertain or in times of high stress. Beings, in general, tend to clump together with others with whom they share similarities in order to seek solace and support. This phenomenon, also called “similarity bias,” is very far-far reaching and can affect any aspect of culture, society, or an individual’s life.

So, where did the term “the Great Clustering” come from? The Great Clustering was not a one-off event that took place in a single day, but instead, happened due to a number of interrelated circumstances. In this case, the main driving force was witch hunting.

This clustering happened from the 14th to 15th centuries, with no solid beginning or end date. Most point to about 1568 when the Great Clustering truly started in earnest, but many wizarding villages had already gradually formed before this time. It was not the beginning of wizarding villages, but instead a period in which the wizarding world recorded a sudden explosion in the creation of these villages. In fact, while the number of recorded villages was notable, there were in fact more villages made than the records show, as there were many towns that, to this day, have not been officially and legally registered with the International Confederation of Wizards. 

It was also through the Great Clustering that many of the recreational activities we know and love were either invented or were popularized. Wizards and witches were drawn closer to each other, and slowly it increased the gap between Muggles and wizards, allowing for more freedom of expression and experimentation for magical folk. Of course, that is not to say that there weren’t obvious downsides to this shift. There were many advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement, but at that time, it seemed to be for the best.

European Wizarding Villages

Due to the shortage of time, I will only be covering a small number of major European wizarding villages. If time and interests allow, I may open up the History of Magic office for further discussion and open lessons. In today’s class, we will be looking closely into  three non-British wizarding villages: Saint-Decatur in France, Jøndum in Denmark, and Grahogden of Luxembourg.


Saint-Decatur

The villagers of Saint-Decatur reside in the Alsace region of France. It is a small, quiet area of the country. 

               

As you can see from the map, the Alsace region is located at the upper east section of the country, bordering Germany and Switzerland. The village, officially founded in 1825, (though, as you might expect, informally populated during the years of the Great Clustering) is near Strasbourg, and was initially populated for a reason that requires a bit of backstory.

Our story starts with two men, Stephen Decatur and James Barron. Both men served in the United States’ Navy and experienced various levels of success. The pair exchanged insults and angry letters, some of which included Barron accusing Decatur of using black magic to gain prominence during his many notable battles. However, in an interesting turn of events, Barron, being a Muggle, did not know that Decatur was, in fact, a wizard! His claims, which had been born of an attempt to slander the more successful man were true, at least in part. 

Of course, Decatur did not want to put himself or his family members in danger, nor break the International Statute of Secrecy. Thus, he had to deny the existence and his use of magic. This animosity went on for at least 13 years in the early 1800’s until, finally, in 1820, Barron decided to challenge Decatur to an official duel, a common occurrence in these times. Unfortunately, due to his reluctance to use magic so openly after what he had been accused of, Decatur lost the duel during the exchange of gunfire. With his opponent still alive and well, he faked his own death.

Constantly worried that Baron might discover the truth and come to finish the job, the Decatur family lived in hiding for a few years. Finally, to ensure peace of mind, the family was transported to France, where Decatur had some extended family that might take them in. After constantly living with various families and moving house to house for about five years, Susan Decatur, the naval officer’s wife, decided to settle down near the outskirts of Strasbourg. Once she set her mind to make the small cluster of people into a proper town, there was nothing that was going to stop her.

Over the years, she gathered many stray wizarding families that were escaping growing tensions in Europe preceding the Muggle civil wars in Germany and France to live with them in their small village. Also, as the town bordered Switzerland, many Swiss wizarding families moved to live in Saint-Decatur after hearing of its growing ranks and the stability and security it had to offer. They started off with just a handful of villagers initially -- and most from either the Decatur or Saint families -- but presently Saint-Decatur is known to be one of the most prominent wizarding cities in Europe with at least 6,000 magical occupants.


Jøndum

Located in North Zealand, Denmark, Jøndum is considered to be one of the smallest all-wizarding villages in Europe. While it only has about 300 villagers, it has enjoyed a long existence, having been informally founded since the time of the vikings. Because it is a small village and purely magical, the families living there are very tight-knit and their children are able to practice magic out in the open. 

This practice of allowing magic to be performed out in the open is an important tenet of the community. In the village’s earliest days (and even presently) many of the children who came to live there did so because they showed signs of their magical powers, but had issues. During the early stages of their lives and beyond, were unable to curb or control them. 

Thus, in the 1500s, with worries of exposure on many parents’ minds, many wizarding parents brought their families to live in Jøndum. There, their children would be able to freely use their powers in an attempt to control them and could stay for however long they needed. They would also be mentored, or taught informally, by a group of ten wizards and witches led by their village chief (at the time, this was Jordan Larits). 

One of the more prominent young wizards to come through the village was Lester Holfiger. His parents, Job and Kelsey Holfiger, brought him to the village when he was five years old because they discovered their son was unable to keep from breaking the glasses in the house even when he sat far away from them. Lester was one of the very few young wizards who were not able to control his magic even after he turned 11, the legal age to start studying in a wizarding school. He was only able to start controlling it properly when he turned 16. Thus, he decided to just stay in the village to help other children who were like him. Ultimately, he became the chief of the village between 1967 to 1986 before he passed away peacefully.

To this day, Jøndum is remembered by its former inhabitants as a childhood “playground” and is often visited by its former residents, giving the children there exposure to more mentor figures.


Grahogden

Grahogden is a partial wizarding village that is located in the north-eastern region of Luxembourg, a place called Putscheid. Although this village is not known to many, I chose this village because of its relatively unknown, yet fascinating history.

                                                                   

Every year there is an average of at least 50,000 visitors that go to Grahogden, largely for one purpose: to touch the Tree of Leben (also known as Tree of Life). Many barren couples visit the village to touch the tree so as to get the blessing of God, or so they believe, to have a child. The question is, is this tree really special or is it just a gimmick to encourage tourism in Grahogden? 

I am going to share with you two slightly different stories about the tree. One is known to the general Muggle community; and the other is the actual historical event.

Muggle Rendition of the Story

There was once a pair of lovers, Matthew and Novem, who loved each other deeply and were married in the chapel in Grahogden. They were childhood sweethearts and grew up together in the village. As teenagers, they would visit this tree at the centre of the village, and hide little notes to each other in the tree hollow. 

In the third year of their marriage, they decided that it was time for them to have a child. However they did not know that Novem was unable to conceive a child due to health complications. Matthew and Novem were devastated; it was not something they had expected at all. 

Years passed, and slowly the couple started to grow apart. They spoke to each other less and spent less time at home. As if by magic, the tree withered as well from disuse and lack of care. One day, feeling hopeless, Novem decided to go back to the tree they used to visit and sat there crying for the loss of their love. Her tears brought life back to the tree and woke it from its slumber. Pitying her, the tree decided to bless her with life, and the two finally conceived, spreading their tale to all who would listen. To this day, the tree blesses couples yearning for a child.

What Actually Happened

In the mid 1500s, there was a powerful witch named Larissa Baxtor. She was one of the strongest witches in Luxembourg at that time, but she often used her powers for evil and was not well-liked by the wizarding community. She was feared by everyone and people often fled from her presence because of her aggravated and aggressive reputation.

In April of 1846, Larissa decided to pay a visit to Grahogden which unexpectedly changed her life forever. She walked by the village chapel and heard sobbing from the door and, ever the sadist, she decided to peek in on this person’s private grief. Inside the chapel was a woman kneeling at the front of the church, sobbing and begging for an answer as to why this had happened. The woman had been betrothed and married to her dearest love, but her husband’s parents, upon discovering her barrenness, had contrived to dissolve their marriage, and were searching for a new wife for their son.

As she listened to the woman bemoan what had befallen her, Baxtor felt her heart soften. In her youth, she had been spurned by a lover (though for entirely different reasons). Struck with empathy for the Muggle woman, and in a position to do something about it, she did something unprecedented. Healing the woman’s limiting condition with a tricky bit of magic, she made it possible for the pair to conceive. However, she knew that there was no way of directly telling the woman what had happened. Instead, she transfigured herself into an elderly woman. Banking on the woman’s kindness, Baxtor invented a favor for the woman to do and, once it was done, pretended to reveal herself as an angel. Baxtor told the woman that one touch of this enchanted tree would gift her a child, and for good measure, the witch actually enchanted the foliage with a powerful Fertility Charm.

Rumours about the special tree spread quickly, boosting the population significantly. Since it was the subject of rumor at a time where magical people sought to go unnoticed, many felt it wasn’t worth the risk, but others were led by their curiosity (and the lovely foliage that sprang up as an after effect of Baxtor’s wandwork). Presently, many couples, both Muggle and magical, make a pilgrimage to the site every year, and a small portion choose to stay. And here, the two different groups live peaceably (though, the Muggles are of course unaware of these differences) united by similar life experiences, showing perhaps that we’re not so different after all.


That will be all for today’s lesson on the Great Clustering. I hope you enjoyed the first lesson of this year’s class. In the next lesson, we will be taking you through the history of ancient Europe. If you have issues with your first assignments of the year, please do contact me or the PAs! I’ll see all of you very soon. 

 

Original lesson written by Professor Autumn Maddox
Additional portions written by Professor Venita Wessex
Image credits here, here, here, and here

 

Now that you’ve learnt about the British Wizarding History, we are going to venture further into the region’s wide spectrum of history as we learn about the History of European Magic. We will be covering many aspects such as Education, Sports, Medicine and many more. We will move from Ancient Europe to the Present Time. You will even get to learn about how we transform and mold ourselves in order to survive and keep the magic alive.
Course Prerequisites:
  • HOM-201

Enroll
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